A group of high school actors who will be performing in a play about teens dealing with poverty, violence, loss and grief can relate to the characters they’re playing, said a Sardis Secondary School teacher.
The students will bring The Outsiders to the stage Dec. 1 to 3. It’s a play that was adapted by Christopher Sergel in 1990 and is based on the classic book written by S.E. Hinton in 1967.
“It is that coming-of-age time, and dealing with loss and grief and harsh realities,” said director Alison Guy.
The play deals with culture conflict and kids trying to figure their way through adolescence.
“So much of that is true today for our kids coming out of the pandemic.”
The Outsiders takes place in the early ’60s and tells the story of a cultural war between two groups of kids – the ‘greasers’ who are the working poor and live in a lower-class neighbourhood, and the ‘socials’ who are the elite, preppy kids that drive nice cars and beat up greasers just for fun.
It revolves around Ponyboy, a greaser who is one of the three Curtis brothers along with siblings Darrel and Sodapop.
The Outsiders is full of stressful and tragic situations including the death of the Curtis brothers’ parents, a boy who gets beat up so badly he has to go to the hospital, the greasers witnessing one of their own as the socials try to drown him, and one boy who kills another because he panics.
“There are all these stressful situations where they’re reacting and acting the best way they know how, but they’re still kids and they make mistakes and they read the situation wrong,” Guy said.
It’s not just the greasers who are struggling; the social kids also have issues. One of them drinks heavily and his parents let him get away with everything. They never say no and the parents always blame themselves for their son’s behaviour.
The teens don’t know how to ask for the right help, or whom to ask.
Adults nowadays often forget how hard it was as a teenager, Guy said.
“We always talk about growing up in a simpler time, but really it wasn’t. It was always a challenge to figure how to go from being a child to a young person. And it always will be, it’s part of the human experience.”
Although the story was written 55 years ago, and made into a movie in 1983, the struggles that the kids go through are still relevant today.
“We lose kids to organized crime all the time because it gives them that sense of belonging, that sense that some’s got their back when they feel powerless,” Guy said. “They don’t realize the huge lifelong mistake that’s going to provide for them, they just know they need someone to watch their back now.”
Sardis Secondary’s production of The Outsiders features a huge cast of 30 kids. Many of the boy characters are played by girls, but still as a male role.
“There’s a lot of empathy for the characters they’re playing,” she said.
All of the students read The Outsiders in middle school and it shows kids that other people struggled to get through this age, too.
“They feel really strongly about it,” Guy said. “They get that a lot of kids don’t have an even and fair chance and that every one of them knows someone who’s probably struggling right now.”
Sardis Secondary School presents The Outsiders Dec. 1 to 3 at the school (45460 Stevenson Rd.). Evening show times are: Dec. 1, 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m. (all tickets $15). They also have a matinee on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. (tickets for the matinee are $10).
This play is not recommended for kids under the age of 12.
NOTE: The Nov. 30 performance was cancelled as a result of school closures due to snow.